Teddy Roosevelt blasts Ford pacifism, says Wilson unprepared

May 19 1916
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DETROIT, May 19, 1916 (UP) - Col. Roosevelt carried a warning to Henry Ford's home town today.

Speaking before an audience of representative Detroiters, he lambasted Ford's pacifism and accused the Wilson administration of "make-believe preparedness."

He contended that only a policy of staunch readiness, of democratizing through nationalizing and of unity of purpose would keep America in the forefront of nations.

The colonel accused influential Germans, who reflected the German government's views, of approving German-American pacifist plans in the United States with the idea of keeping America unprepared.

He dubbed the present governmental representatives at Washington "96 per cent feeble,"and sarcastically referred to "note writing and other intellectual exercises," while scornfully railing against the "policy of culpable weakness and timidity" he said Wilson had pursued.

Roosevelt's proposed visit to Ford at the manufacturer's Highland Park plant was called off, but Ford planned to see the colonel at his hotel.

The colonel said the conference was arranged at Ford's request.

"Ford wrote me several months ago, inviting me to come to Detroit and view his automobile plant and discuss the preparedness question with him," Roosevelt said.

"It has been reported erroneously that it was I who asked to meet Ford."

While Roosevelt was preaching preparedness, the pacifists were not idle.

Under the directions of the Detroit branch of the American league against militarism, formerly known as the anti-preparedness league, a canvas-covered wagon, with sides placarded with peace and anti-preparedness signs, paraded the streets.

Roosevelt arrived early today, made a brief speech to boy scouts at the station, and then breakfasted with 50 businessmen who invited him here.

He delivered his speech in the opera house. It was packed. In a specially reserved section were 500 Detroit women who had expressed willingness to give their sons to the defense of the nation.

The colonel was invited by Detroiters who resented what they said was a general impression that Detroit, Ford's home, had been converted to his pacifist doctrines.

Col. Roosevelt said:

"I come here to Michigan because in the primary for the selection of delegates to the republican national convention, Mr. Ford was victorious, and following on his victory here, he showed a marked popular strength in Nebraska and Pennsylvania.

The effect of this showing has been immediately visible upon many of the politicians within and without congress. One of the leading anti-preparedness, or peace-at-any-price papers in New York recently commented with great satisfaction upon the defeat in the lower house of congress of the proposal to increase our regular army to 250,000 men.

This situation makes it advisable to speak with courtesy but with entire frankness of what the success of Mr. Ford means, and is taken to mean. It is in Michigan, Mr. Ford's own state, where the Ford movement began that I wish to say what I have to say on the subject.

For Mr. Ford personally, I feel not merely friendliness, but in many respects a very genuine admiration. There is much in the methods and very much in the purposes, with which he has conducted his business, notably in his relations to his working people that commands my hearty sympathy and respect.

Moreover, there is always something attractive to an American in the career of a man who has raised himself from the industrial ranks until he is one of the captains of industry.

But all that I have thus said, can with truth be said of many, perhaps of most of the tories of the revolutionary war and of many or most of the pacifists of the civil war, the extremists among whom were popularly known as copperheads.

Many of these tories and civil war pacifists were men of fine character and upright purpose, who sincerely believed in the cause they advocated.

These pacifists who formed so large a proportion of the old-time tories and copperheads abhorred and denounced in the militarism of Washington in 1776 and of Lincoln in 1861. They were against all war and all preparedness for war.

In the revolutionary contest they insisted that Washington was the embodiment of anarchic militarism.

Their purpose was to get the 'boys' of Bunker Hill and Valley Forge 'out of the trenches' and bring them back to their homes and make them quit fighting.

In 1864 they denounced Lincoln as a military dictator. They praised peace as the greatest of all earthly blessings. They demanded that the war should cease, and they wished to get the 'boys' of the Army of the Potomac 'out of the trenches' before Christmas and bring them back to the farm, the shop, and the counting house.

If these pacifists of the revolution and the civil war had had their way, they would have put an immediate stop to much suffering and much loss of life.

And unwittingly they would have utterly ruined this nation. They would have prevented its being a nation. They would have made the countrymen of Washington and the countrymen of Lincoln objects of scorn and derision, and they would have made of this great republic a hissing and a byword among the nations of the earth.

This is what these good well-meaning pacifists of those days would have done if they had achieved their purpose. This is what the pacifists of our day, the neo-tories, the neo-copperheads, will do if they achieve their purpose.

Either we must surrender our rights, and at the same time our self-respect, or we else we must be ready to defend our rights with a hand trained to exercise the weapons of free men, and with a heart steeled to that stern courage for the lack of which the possession of the softer virtures can never atone.

Such is the issue. It is as clear cut in this year 1916 as it was in 1861 or 1776. In the history of this country this is the third great crisis and it coincides with a tremendous world crisis.

This issue is: are we prepared with a sane and lofty idealism to fit ourselves to render great service to mankind by rendering ourselves fit for our own service, or are we content to avoid effort and labor in the present by preparing to tread the path that China has trodden?

We must choose one course or the other. We shall gain nothing by making believe that we can avoid choosing either course.

In any serious crisis there are always men who try to carry water on both shoulders. These man try to escape the hard necessity of choice between two necessary opposite alternatives, by trying to work up some compromise.

But there come great crises when compromise is either impossible or fatal. This is one of those crises.

There is no use in saying that we will fit ourselves to defend ourselves a little, but not much. Such a position is equivalent to announcing that, if necessary, we shall hit, but that we shall only hit soft.

The only right principle is to avoid hitting if that is possible to do so, but never under any circumstances to hit soft.

To go to war a little, but not much, is the one absolutely certain way to insure disaster.

To prepare a little but not much stands on a par with a city developing a fire department which, after a fire occurs, can put it out a little, but not much.

We, through our representatives at Washington, have absolutely refused in the smallest degree to prepare during these twenty-two months of world cataclysm.

We first hysterically announced we were afraid that preparedness might make us lose our vantage ground as a peace-loving people.

Then we became frightened and announced loudly that we ought to prepare; that the world was on fire, that our national structure was in danger of catching flame; and that we must immediately make ready.

Then we turned another somersault and abandoned all talk of preparedness; and we never did anything more than talk.

The net result is that there has been no preparation so far, because of what has happened in the great war. Congress is still in the conversational stage on the matter.

The ultra-pacifists, as represented by Mr. Ford, have made their great showing precisely because there has been no real and resolute opposition to them.

There are, at this time, two great lessons before us both inseparably bound together. They are the issue of Americanism and preparedness.

As a people we have to decide whether we are able and ready to take care of ourselves; or whether we doubt our national unity and fear to prepare, and intend instead to trust partly to elocutionary ability in high places.

Those in power at Washington have taken the latter positions.

Mr. Ford's supporters in the primaries seemingly come chiefly from three classes - the workingmen, who believe that he represents the desire to do justice to them; the pacificists who think that a policy of helplessness in the face of other nations will insure our national safety, and the German-Americans, some of them in an honest and sincere mood of protest, and others under the influence of that portion of the professional German-Americans, who have permitted their devotion to Germany finally to make them antagonistic to the welfare of the United States.

As for the wage workers who support Mr. Ford, I understand entirely their desire to support any man who, in their belief, stands for a more substantial measure of social and industrial justice.

But I wish, with all the emphasis in my power, to call their attention to the fact that in order for us to work within our own borders for social and industrial justice, it is necessary to secure to ourselves the power to determine these questions for ourselves.

It is of not the slightest consequence at this moment what the businesss men or the wage workers or the farmers of Belgium think should be done in the way of industrial and agricultural development and justice, because they have to do whatever the Germans tell them to do; and they work and live as they are told by their conquerors.

In the same way it is of no consequence what the native Koreans at the moment think should be done to raise themselves upward toward civilization, because the determining factor in their future is the Japanese attitude."

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